Acknowledgement of Country
Acknowledgement of Country
The Tenants’ Union of New South Wales recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the First Peoples of Australia. Our office is on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.
In keeping with the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, the TU acknowledges that the land in the State of New South Wales is of spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance to Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the land. It is fitting to acknowledge the importance which all land in NSW has for the Aboriginal people and the need of the Aboriginal people for the land. The TU acknowledges that as a result of past government decisions, the amount of land set aside for Aboriginal people has been progressively reduced without compensation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are also over-represented in NSW renter households. The TU acknowledges the present and historical disadvantage faced by Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander People and the role of government policies, past and present and racism throughout Australia in creating this disadvantage and the impact of this disadvantage on tenancy and housing issues.
The TU acknowledges that a lack of support for non-tenancy issues such as mental health issues, financial hardship, substance dependence, family violence and disabilities can often lead to an escalation of tenancy issues and result in tenants receiving termination notices and/or suffering other negative outcomes such as accruing large rent arrears.
Artwork by Aboriginal Artist Pauline Coxon
Aboriginal Artist Pauline Coxon created this brilliant painting about tenancy issues. Pauline used to be a Tenant Advocate. The Tenants’ Union of NSW commissioned her to paint anything that inspired her about tenancy. We're so happy with the painting and the powerful messages it contains! Thanks Pauline. If you would like to learn more about Pauline, please visit her website: paulinecoxon.com. Pauline explains the painting below.
About the artwork
By Pauline Syron Coxon – the artist
This painting has been inspired by the logo of the Tenants’ Union of NSW but with a Koori design and symbolism. The four squares are Community, Key to Success, Lending a Hand and Making Tracks to Your Tenancy, Coming Home. I used Australian Aboriginal generic symbols such as the camp ground for community, the rainbow serpent and the bush foods. The tools I used are all commonly used by Aboriginal communities. The tracks and the animals I choose are also found throughout NSW. I did not wish to use symbols, foods or tracks that were particularly from my country Worimi and Biripi Country, as I really wanted to connect to all Aboriginal communities. I felt that it was culturally appropriate to use universal symbols such as the Rainbow Serpent and the Southern Cross as they are easy recognisable symbols that all Australians connect with including the Aboriginal community. I wanted the painting to visually tell a story and that all cultures would be able to interpret. I also wanted the painting to be visually appealing and interesting, so it drew the viewer into the message. I present the final painting with great excitement!
The painting begins with Community (lower left). This image has as its centre a camp site, with different family structures and individuals represented. Looking at the people there are adults with children, single adults with children and adults without children. The community is looking for home and they are in need of a tenancy. The camp site in the centre represents their tenancy but they all are unable to reach it at the moment. The community has to reach out for support.
Key to Success
This image (lower right) is one of the directions that the community may go to obtain their tenancy. The Rainbow Serpent is an Aboriginal dreamtime story icon that represents creation. The rainbow serpent is within the key to a successful tenancy with the support of abundance and resources. The bush tucker represents this abundance, with purple Bush Plums, red Lilly Pilly’s and orange Yams. A healthy community has a healthy tenancy that can be sustained.
Lending a Hand
This image (upper left) represents another direction that the community may wish to go. By giving advice and advocacy, the Network of Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services is able to lend a hand. The tools surrounding the helping hand are from the bottom and going in a clockwise direction: Hunting Spear, Woomera, Shield, Boomerang, Stone Axe, Digging Stick, Fishing Spear, Dilly Bag, Colomon, Grinding Stone and Bowl, Non-Return Boomerang, Nulla Nulla, and Clap Sticks. By utilising the tools, the community will find the keys to their tenancy in the palm of their hand. The community only has to reach out to access the tools.
Making Tracks to Your Tenancy, Coming Home
This image (upper right) is the final destination for the community to arrive, and that is coming home. The tracks surrounding the house are all on their journey to the entry of their tenancy. Starting on the left hand side and going in a clockwise direction you will notice the tracks of a Lizard, Koala, Kangaroo, Man, Emu, Dingo, Platypus and Echidna. All are equal and represent the totems of our ancestors and the diversity of our community today. The Southern Cross is a symbol of our great southern land and traditionally was used to navigate the land. A tenant stands illuminated with light in the door way, they have made tracks to their tenancy and are coming home.
Artworks by Aboriginal Artist Millmullian
The Tenants' Union was very pleased to commission a series of artworks by Aboriginal Artist Millmullian in 2015.
Millmullian is a Wailwaan, Ngiyampaa and Yuin man and a proud father of eight children. He participates in Aboriginal cultural men’s business and cultural ceremony regularly.
Millmullian is a well-known artist skilled in many areas including painting, tools and weapons making, weaving, emu egg carving and cultural dance and song performance. He also regularly works in schools and in community teaching Aboriginal art, dance and culture.
In his artwork, Millmullian depicts stories of the dreamtime, stories of personal experiences and interactions with the natural environment on country. Millmullian was also taught art, stories and cultural skills by many different Elders over his life whilst growing up among his people at Gingie Mission and Namoi Village near Walgett NSW, where there were people living together from all different tribes.
Together Millmullian and his wife Nyimirr raise their children through cultural ways such as speaking several Aboriginal languages at home, regularly spending time in country with their children and at significant sites, teaching the children about bush foods and medicine, cultural law/lore and cultural ceremony, song and dance.
About the artworks
By Millmullian – the artist
Ngurampaa depicts Wawai the Rainbow Serpent travelling across country creating rivers, streams and waterholes. The animals represent all the different groups of people, their totems and their home country. The lines on the outside represent the different sacred places in each country. The dots in the border represent the eyes of the ancestors that continue to watch over all of country everywhere. It is upon this history and living culture of today that all homes exist in what is now called “Australia”.
Burralgaa Walaay (Brolga’s Camp/Nest/Home) shows two Brolgas caring for their eggs in a nest that they built together. The Brolgas are celebrating the security and love in which they will nurture their future young. The five concentric circles represent the different locations where the Brolga’s may nest given the right conditions. The red arched lines represent the water and giver of life they need to provide for their young.
Dinewan dhina means Emu’s tracks. This painting depicts concentric circles linked by four lines which represent different places/homes on country linked by a common Wailwaan law. The large emu footprints in the centre represent the people who carry the Wailwaan law and the smaller emu footprints represent the people who walk in that law. The outer lines represent the strength and security we have within our Wailwaan law.
Dhubany is our spirit which is here represented by our totem animals. To help our spirit stay strong we need a safe place to live, a safe place to call home. The line in the middle of the animals represents our songlines that connect all our people and all our totems. We sing up our songlines to take care of ourselves, our country and our totems. In our cultural way we take care of our totems making sure our totem animals are safe and well for now and for future generations. In this way we also take care of our spirit.
Wawai travelled our country creating land forms, waterholes and rivers all of which are important to our people for spiritual and physical wellbeing. The concentric circles represent campsites of different family groups across country. The country was created for all people to share so all people deserve a safe place to call home on country.
Mullian is the Wedge Tailed Eagle, the bird in the centre. The larger circles in the painting represent the larger communities of people and the smaller circles represent the smaller communities. The outside wavy lines connecting the communities are the paths which the people travel between the communities. The smaller shorter lines connecting to the central wavy lines represent the knowledge gained from those communities coming together to create a stronger and more stable world. The Wedge Tailed Eagle in the centre represents the strength of unity in people coming together through fair and just law. The orange lines on the outside represent the wing feathers of the Wedge Tailed Eagle flying over the communities to oversee and protect the people.